Six Flags park to be part of massive development in Dubai

Six Flags plans to bring a theme park with roller coasters to Dubai.
Six Flags plans to bring a theme park with roller coasters to Dubai. Special to the Fort Worth Star-T

A Six Flags theme park will be part of a $454 million addition to a massive Dubai project, the development company said Monday, yet another major bet on tourism by the city-state’s ruler.

The new spending by Dubai Parks & Resorts, which already includes Bollywood and movie-themed parks, as well as a Legoland, will put the cost of the entire project in the sprawling desert southwest of the city at well over $3 billion.

And by adding Six Flags, it appears the company hopes to exorcise the lingering memory of another massive amusement park planned here to include it before the emirate’s 2008 property crash.

Dubai Parks & Resorts said its board of directors agreed to issue shares worth 1.67 billion dirhams ($454 million) to raise money for the Six Flags Dubai park. Shareholders will vote on the deal in April, it said.

It offered no other details about what will be planned for the park, though a mock-up on display earlier this month at the resort’s main office showed a possible addition to the park on its eastern corner.

In a statement, Dubai Parks & Resorts’ CEO Raed Kajoor al-Nuaimi said the addition of Six Flags would “further establish Dubai Parks and Resorts’ position as the Middle East’s largest leisure and entertainment destination.”

“This means we will be able to strengthen the appeal of our destination, attracting thrill seekers of all ages,” he said. Officials hope to open the Six Flags park by late 2019.

Two years ago, Six Flags announced that it was partnering with Meraas Leisure and Entertainment to open a park in Dubai. The Dubai Parks & Resorts’ announcement is “the next stage of the agreement,” said Nancy Krejsa, a spokeswoman for Grand Prairie-based Six Flags Entertainment, in an email.

Approval of the plan by shareholders appears likely. Meraas Holding, a firm backed by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the park’s majority owner with 60 percent of the company. Previous listings on the Dubai Financial Market showed the Kuwait Investment Authority, that country’s sovereign wealth fund, owned a 5-percent stake, as did Bahrain’s Mubasher Financial Services, though that information was no longer listed the exchange’s website Monday.

Six Flags Entertainment “will be heavily involved in managing” the Dubai park, Krejsa said, but she declined to discuss financial terms of the deal. Annual reports over the last two years for Six Flags included mentions of it making licensing deals overseas that don’t require it “to make any capital investments,” while reaping fees while any park is under development or opened.

Earlier this month, Six Flags announced a partnership with private firm NaVi Entertainment to lend its name to a theme and water park in Vietnam, without disclosing financial terms of the deal. And it has also licensed its name for a Six Flags park in China.